Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 16

Accepted Abstracts

LightVerb-Quest: An Adventure Storytelling Game to Foster Second Language Acquisition and Verbal Multi-Word Expressions Assimilation

Annalisa Raffone, “L’Orientale” University of Naples (Italy)

Francesco Maria Sacerdoti, E-voluzione S.r.l. (Italy)

Sabina Maraffi, I.C. Poggiali Spizzichino (Italy)

Johanna Monti, “L’Orientale” University of Naples (Italy)


In today’s ever-changing society, Second Language Teaching (SLT) is becoming a challenge for language learning teachers and educators as the increasing availability of digital tools − to whom 21st Century students are constantly exposed − can cause the traditional face-to-face language learning process to be boring and/or ineffective. Nevertheless, CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) researchers[2] have recently stated the potential for serious games as innovative support to traditional educational methods. In effect, Game-Based Learning (GBL) could have a strong impact on achieving educational objectives in language learning[1] as it stimulates learners’ autonomy and cooperation and promotes language acquisition through goal-oriented activities. Moreover, when gaming is accompanied by a good narrative structure, motivation and engagement are further enhanced. In the context of English as a Second Language (ESL), Multi-word Expressions (MWEs) play an essential role in enabling language fluency but, at the same time, they usually represent a challenge for L2 learners as, unlike native speakers, they tend to paraphrase or produce word combinations instead of multiword sequences. In particular, Light-Verb Constructions (LVC) pose a problem for processing due to the non-compositionality of their meaning that cannot be easily deduced from their constituent parts. In fact, as a light verb is formed by a verb plus a nominal complement (take a nap), it actually presents some information on the event but has abstract semantics, unlike heavy verbs that have full lexical meaning (sleep). Therefore, this paper aims at presenting an on-going experiment on the teaching of English LVCs to Italian secondary school students based on the development of a class-interactive adventure game called LightVerb-Quest or “The Story of WordLand”. The game is based on an original adventure-story whose highly narrative nature allows the creation of a flow that fosters students’ intrinsic motivation and learning as they face their learning challenges by interacting with the game through their Smartphones. Accordingly, Multiple-choice questions (MC) related to the chosen LVCs gradually appear during the story narration, thus making students understand their meaning and assimilate their usage. Furthermore, the story has been syntactically and grammatically constructed according to CEFR (The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) levels for secondary school students (A1-A2), so to make them learn and fix other grammatical structures. This paper also aims at responding to today’s latest methodological guidelines about students’ needs for digital skills by creating an innovative instructional product.

Keywords: Second Language Acquisition, Storytelling, Game-based Learning, Multi-word Expressions, English as a Second Language, Computer Assisted Language Learning.

[1] Blunt, R. (2009) Do Serious Games Work? Results from Three Studies. From
[2] Reinhardt, J. (2017). Digital Gaming in L2 Teaching and Learning. In C.A. Chapelle, & S. Sauro (Eds.), The Handbook of Technology and Second Language Teaching and Learning (pp. 202-216). Wiley-Blackwell

Back to the list

Reserved area

Media Partners:

Pixel - Via Luigi Lanzi 12 - 50134 Firenze (FI) - VAT IT 05118710481
    Copyright © 2023 - All rights reserved

Privacy Policy